End of the Road, Heading Home

fullsizerender-3The last shows I can talk about for April were extraordinary.
One was in Lebanon, on which my Black Howl team hopped: the Beirut Madinati fundraising concert. That group was different, fighting for what was right, gave a lot of hope for Lebanese people, inspired change. So you could imagine how honored I was when they called me to get Black Howl on board. I wish I had been in Beirut for that, but this was the first project where I tested my team. Let’s say I was proud all the way from the US.
The second was in NY, and I got to be on board of the production team, with Boschi Events, delivering the We Are Family Foundation‘s gala dinner, honoring U2’s Bono and President Jimmy Carter.

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I also had the chance to gather a few bands for a private dinner. Make sure you check out A Case For Brooklyn.

May was about relaxing, saying goodbye to NC, FL and NY, having a pit stop in London, embracing friends that live around the world…

I was fortunate enough to join Jason to learn how to prepare the gear for a tour. Jason is Two Door Cinema Club‘s current stage and backline manager, and when I’m around, he always has me on board, teaching me a lot of things we don’t have the chance to learn in Lebanon.

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The last night to my long trip was more than perfect: a friend I met on Byblos, another roadie, called up and told me he had an extra ticket to Radiohead’s sold out show and the after party. So I tagged along Robbie Williams’ and Muse’s roadies and went to see one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Maybe Radiohead being my favorite band had a lot to play in that.

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The summer in Lebanon was near, and that meant tackling our festive seasons with the numerous concerts coming up and being fully active again.

The first 4 months of 2016 were about travel, but it also was about therapy, getting lost in order to find myself, discover and learn new things. As I was settling back in Beirut, I noticed I didn’t like sticking to my old routine of going out to the same places every day and night. Beirut could have that toll on you, as it’s small and you all know the same people, who eventually hang out in the same places. Waiting for big work to kick in, I tried to embrace daylight rather than nightlife, I met new people, I put a stop to daily bars and dinners… I visited places in Lebanon I hadn’t been to in a long time, I camped more, giving nature the time I always thought it deserved. More importantly, I crossed off a bucket list point, and a fear I wanted to get over: Climbing.

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And as I can never stay away from work, I had been preparing a concert in Lebanon with my team, while I was abroad: Adonis at the Beirut Spring Festival. It was sort of relaxing to have a team I could count on, and just land in and see them set up and get things done to deliver a good show.

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A Road Semester

IMG_2705 (1)IMG_2842Lebanon is a small cozy beautiful country. It’s also very corrupt and chaotic unfortunately.

So I packed a bag and booked a ticket for about a month, to go help out at Zuhair Murad’s Paris Fashion Show in January, pass by London a bit to see friends, and end up in NY for two weeks.

It’s now been three months that I left my small room (and my guitar, mind you), and I changed my ticket back about two times maybe. I’ve also not been staying put in the same place for more than 10 days. My friends have been more than helpful and welcoming, as some of you know, Lebanese people are known for their hospitality, refusing I’d take a place of my own.

I’m waiting for my flight out to North Carolina to visit my cousin. And I thought I hadn’t written here in a while and my freelance illustrations can wait a good 20 min, while I give this an update, just to not forget the beginning of my 2016.

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I’ve learned a bit more about lights in NY at le Poisson Rouge, allowing me to know what the next step would be on this particular road. I’ve been learning about music production too, giving me more insight on what I use in my daily work on stage, whether it’s about mics and cables or amplitude and frequency (and all those fancy technical words). I’ve been also working on my graphic skills, landing some clients here in NY, remembering my student years with branding and layouts…

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IMG_4930Thanks to Amy from the alt-J crew, I was able to join Boschi events as a production assistant and work on Three Dot Dash’s Just Peace Summit, a wonderful initiative by Nile Rodgers’ We Are Family Foundation. They basically round up 30 teenagers from around the world who have initiated projects that help bring peace to their communities.
We’ve also launched the Black Howl website. Black Howl is a community of freelancers, whose goal is to round up our clients under the same hub and keep the freelancers free. Make sure to check it out, and if you’d be so kind to show your support on all our social media platforms.

 

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It hasn’t been all work and no play though. We’ve seen Coeur de Pirate, and she’s even more mesmerizing live than on her records. My good friend Jason, and Jack even got me backstage at the Foals and Cage the Elephant concert in Rochester in March. It’s been so long since I’ve seen great rock, and a crowd that is that crazy. I’ve passed by Miami, saw the amazing Wynwood walls. If you ever go to that side of the world, make sure you try the alligator bites at Kush, and go to Space on saturday nights.

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On The Road With Leila’s Boys

Leila 4I was put to the test as a roadie with Mashrou’ Leila.
As a recap of what I’ve been trying to do for the last year: get a spot on a touring crew.
And it’s funny enough that I haven’t searched first with the band that’s closest to home, just thinking they didn’t need anyone.
But after working together on London Grammar’s concert in Beirut, they offered to try me out.

And so it started.

 

After my vacation in New York, I joined the guys in Rabat (Morocco), London (UK), Cairo (Egypt) and Istanbul (Turkey). Four concerts and a BBC shoot in London for one of the songs.
It went pretty well. I admit there are a lot of stuff I could do more, but it will come with time, as this is my first taking more on my plate that I am aware of.
A small inside look on the guys: despite rumors of snobbish and ungrateful relations, I was joyfully surprised by their respect, manners, love and dedication to the music, fans and people they work with, even if it’s just a few hours. I am more than grateful to be part of this particular team.

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Apart from the roadie work, I’ve been managing my 4 a Cause team to get the December projects up and running.
Music 4 Sara is the first: we’ll be celebrating Sara Khatib who unfortunately passed away this summer. The event will focus on how amazing and inspiring she was and still is, but also on her life goals that her parents and friends are continuing to achieve for her.

photoThe second is the first of, I hope, many campaigns: The (4) campaigns. This one will go to support Myschoolpulse, an organization that sends tutors to five hospitals in Lebanon, aiding 108 kids with life-threatening and chronic illnesses. It’s about education and support.

We partnered up with Orient Express and Radio Beirut, to sell the fundraising bracelets for that cause. Donations boxes and bracelets are already there.
Spread the message, we need your help!

First, Step Up

Needless to say the concert was awesome. What blew everyone’s mind was how incredibly talented and amazing it was despite their very young age. The crew was also very easy to work with. We had some minor difficulties to set up, having the opening band Mashrou’ Leila with a very different set up to change in less than 10 min: we did it in 8!
Both bands’ crews were happy with my team’s work, and that’s something to look back on with a smile.

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The show might be the cheery for most of the people that were in Biel, but being congratulated on an awesome job when it’s your first time doing it on your own as a head of a team is what made this an incredible middle-start for me.
Sure, there were some mistakes and “holes” here and there, due to the lack of experience on some other people we were working with, but we pulled it off, helping wherever we can once we were done with our tasks.

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And… on the next day, I had to get up (with what was left of me of energy and what not) to finalize some details about my upcoming surprise to Lebanon. All that’s left to do before the revelation is funding.
Stay tuned…

Three Countries in Less than a Week

ImageAnd I’m back!

Had a small vacation in London, tried to manage the Sunsets launching party from there a bit.
Hopped on the plane to get to it a day before,… WE KILLED IT!

Having more than 1500 people there when we were expecting 700.

The Watergate DJs were amazing and loved it, let’s just say they’ll maybe be back.
After dismantling and closing up a bit that project, hopped on a plane to Dubai to take on another much bigger project, or let’s say GRAND.

We’re working on some new stuff now at JK58, preparing for the Byblos Festival too, which I’ll be handling.

Met with The Buzz Production people today, after picking up Jean Carl from the airport.
Met with the team to discuss the upcoming Sunsets’ projects.

Here’s to the next ones.

Escape to the UK

ImageWork has been a bit stressful for the past week. I had to finish three projects (or what I had to do on them) before yesterday, because I’m leaving for 10 days to London.

It’s been years since I escaped and had a bit of time for myself.
It’s a bit weird taking a few days off. I’m taking my laptop with me in case I need to butt in on the one project which is still running while I’m away: Sunsets.
This is where I realize how big of a workaholic I am.

We launch on May 11th at Long Beach (Manara) bringing A-Class DJs from Watergate, Berlin: Ruede Hagelstein, Stassy, Matthias Meyer & Robin Drimalski.

I’ll be back on the 10th and on site setting up right away.

We’ll see you there folks.